Tag Archives: Androgenix

Reply to:Glypromate Fails Phase 3

I recently had a comment on my previous ‘ Glypromate Fails Phase 3‘ post.

‘Seriously Graeme, couldn’t you see this coming years ago? Neuren is one of NZ’s leading Biotechs? I want you have been smoking, the demise of Genesis and anything remotely linked to any of it’s former employees is enough for any potential investers to run a mile let alone invest in ANY listed NZ biotech company albeit on the ASX or anywhere offshore.

$1.3 mill for a biotech with a so-called pipeline of 6 molecules that someone else has already written off? Puh-lease, you have better chance of making money investing in a non-existant Lehman Brothers’

I spent a bit of time constructing a reply so I thought I’d make a post out of it.

Reply:

Thanks for your comments.

I have had my concerns regarding the direction and operation of the company but I will keep those reservations to myself. Considering that $3 million in Aug 6th 2008 and another $2 million in Sept 30th 2008 was invested apparently shareholders didn’t see things coming either.

Regarding Neuren as a leading NZ biotech– Let me reminder you that they were the only NZ biopharma with a drug candidate in Phase 3 trials, quite an achievement in itself. However there are also a series of other leading NZ biotechs/ biopharmas such as KODE Biotech, Aquaflow Corp, Lanzatech, Zygem, LCT and Proacta (most likely NZ’s next Phase 3 experience with PR-104) that deserve mention.

The fall of Genesis has been…preventable? Probably? A complete failure? Definitely not. During a Chiasma event last year Jim Watson highlighted a very important point regarding measuring the success (or failure) of Genesis. He referred to the employees and students that have passed through Genesis as a vital contribution to NZ’s growing bioeconomy. These are likely to be a group of individuals hardened/experienced to the realities of corporate biotech (due to poor management? Possibly). I also believe you would be hard pressed to find any biotech in NZ that doesn’t have an ex-Genesis employee in it these days. In fact there are a few ex-Genesis employees who are now leading their own start ups which have recently attracted funding.

Some of the ones I am familiar with include:

Keith Hudson – ex Research Leader at Genesis and now founder and CSO of Androgenix who have raised $1-1.5million in Aug06 and >$2.5million in June 2008

Sean Simpson – ex Senior Scientist at Genesis and now CSO and founder of Lanzatech which has attracted funding from Kholsa Ventures , Stephen Tindall, Cranleigh Merchant Bankers, VIF, Pacific Channel and FRST totalling >$15million

Neil Domigan – ex Commercial Manager and Head of Business Analysis at Genesis and now CEO of Ingredient Solutions currently seeking an ambitious $27.5 million worth of investment. The latest update being that a North American investor has issued a statement of intent to purchase 40% of the shares. Neil is also Commercial Manager and a Director of EcoDiesel which has risen >$2.5million.

Paul Tan ex Deputy Director and Head of Health Division at Genesis and now CEO of LCT which like Neuren raised money on the ASX ( AU$15 million)

So in fact all hope is not lost. Investors are coughing up the dough for NZ Biotechs whether or not their management team has originated from NZ ‘failures’.

Keep in mind Neuren recently purchased Hamilton Pharmaceuticals including their late Phase 2 drug candidate, Motiva. And with the amount of money being thrown around by big Pharma recently AU$1.3 (now 1.54) million for a pipeline with two Phase 2 candidates is a pretty good gamble.

To sign off….Biotech is a tough game with dodgy politics and management, lemon drugs, stringent regulations, the constant need for money and a developmental route that can kill your product/lead dead at any stage. If you don’t like it, get out and play a different game.

____________________________

Graeme @ graemefielder.com

Biotech Showcase – 21st April – REVIEW

The inaugural Biotechnology Showcase hosted by NZBio was kicked off tonight. It profiled 4 NZ biotech companies that were trying to attract investment and 1 company that was an example of one that had already done so. The latter being LanzaTech’s3 2007 deal with Khosla ventures (a leading VC in the Cleantech arena)

Other words of mention: new NZTE biotech/ agritech sector director  Damein Lynch and the report by the RSNZ released recently that outlines NZ’s strategy for improving its science-based industries/ sectors.

1: Androgenix - presented by Brent Ogilvie (CEO) and Keith Hudson (CSO) http://www.androgenix.com/

  • sperm sexing device
  • taking a bioinformatics approach to identify cell surface markers that facilitate identification of sperm. And is based on para-magnetic bed separation technology.
  • current method $40 with a 45% efficiency
  • androgenic method $20 with a 65% efficiency
  • market estimation – diary US$1.6billion, US$600mill swine, US$ 250mill beef
  • competition – GRI Ltd – uses flow cytometry methods
  • competition – Microbix Biosystems
  • Risk – unable to secure a patent as other companies have secured IP around the identifying molecules.

2: Ingredient Solutions - presented by Neil Domigan ( NMD Biotech

  • milk processing technology that allows the pasteurisation and separation of undenatured proteins (transferrin) from milk such that it retains it biological activity. This is not the case with traditional heat pastuerisation.
  • undenatured protein ingredient market - US$20 million

3: KODE Biotech - presented by CEO/CSO Steve Henry

http://www.aut.ac.nz/about/partners/kode_biotech_ltd/

  • have a focus which sees them as a IP-generating company
  • Core technology is based around molecules enabling the ‘painting’ of cells
  • looking for a $2million investment for 11% of KODE Biotech
  • this funding will be used for the spinning out of another company. This company is based on the application of the KODE technology for inhibiting viral infection – particularly HIV. It will also be used for the further development of KODE Biotech’s research core and further IP registrations
  • KODE is currently generating cash flow
  • predicted that on base operations in 2012 they will be generating $25mill, doubling by 2017
  • Currently have several strong partnerships and licensees – particularly Immunocore and CSL Bioplasma

4: Pulsecor – presented by CEO William Waite http://www.pulsecor.com/

  • blood pressure monitor that measures central blood pressure whereas traditional methods measure brachial pressure. It measures arterial compliance or, the stiffness of arteries. This is important as it gives a better indicator of heart/ blood pressure condition.
  • In addition to the tangible device itself, the core of Pulsecors technology is the software/ algorithm and technique/method.
  • they are ready to commercialise
  • Actually had their prototype on location that we go to try out after the speeches
  • They have customers placing orders in the $millions but are unable to fill due to having to meet certain regulatory compliance before reaching the market
  • US$1-2billion potential market, current market of US$218 mill
  • predict that the sales of 150 units will bring them to break even
  • they are seeking 1.5 mill – for use in development and meeting these regulatory issues.

At the conclusion of the presentations I had a few discussions with investors presents. The majority impressed with quality of the investment opportunities presented all of which were relatively small and most likely easy to fulfill.

(Click to enlarge)

IIB – NZ’s latest biotech incubator

IIB

Check out the new Institute for Innovation in Biotechnology at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland. Note – facility itself is yet to be built.

The Co-Location concept that this facility boasts allows private companies to ‘spin in’ giving them access to the latest equipment and an army of staff students on contract research basis or in a jointly owned intellectual property agreement (both managed by UniServices).

It is like an incubator for biotech companies much like that of the AgBio Waikato Bio-Innovation Park. It is great to see opportunities promoting the merging of industry and universities emerging. I personally believe the countries universities are the most valuable resource in NZ generating a thriving biotech industry. To date this is evident through the numerous companies spun out from the university several of whom have therapeutics in clinical trials – CoDa, Neuren,Protemix, Androgenix, Lactopharma, Proacta, Symansis, Biomatters, Brainz, Telemetry, Nerian. Access to a huge pool of resources make starting up a fresh biotech considerably easier than going at it alone.

It will be interesting to see what companies take up this offer and which other/ if any universities are stimulated to follow suit.

http://www.biotech.co.nz/ – great domain name